By Van Williams, Contributor
[Exploding In Sound; 2016]
Key Tracks: “Good Behavior,” “At Risk Student,” “Personal Life”
Everyone remembers that first time when they put on a record, and it all just clicks. “This is the record I’ve been wanting to listen to this whole time,” you tell yourself, “I just didn’t know where it was.” Many listeners will find this to be the case with Two Inch Astronaut’s third LP, Personal Life.
Rushing through the recording process in order to avoid any second guessing, the band came out with a sloppy beast of a record, and they absolutely made the right call. The record starts off with “Good Behavior.” It’s brooding, it’s simple, and then it’s as if someone hits a switch and everything is kicked into a new gear. As the listener gets further into the record, it becomes apparent how talented this band is at doing just that, without ever losing focus of where the song is. The record blisters forward, though not necessarily due to the tempo, but rather the intrigue. This record is an enigma, because while not being technically very “accessible,” there is a charming quality that makes it very easy to listen to.
Another high point comes in the form of the brilliant “At Risk Student.” Staring off with what sounds like a late era Fugazi riff and intricate drumming, the song then completely changes directions and goes into a very clean, delicate chorus. None of it makes sense, the riff is off key, the tempos are very odd, but when it’s all sewn up together the final product is stunning. The riff is almost reminiscent of another riff that shouldn’t work but does, found in “Buddy Holly” by Weezer. The fourth track, titled “Submission,” features slightly off key vocals that still manage to sound so beautiful one could compare them to that of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.
Halfway through the record the listener is greeted with the album’s title track. This is one of the most straight forward punk songs on the record, and it should be no shocker that it is the best. With shouted lyrics like “In my fist on the way to the liquor store I felt my 20’s crumbling / And if it’s not the end of the whole world, then it’s the end of something.” There’s nothing more punk than blistering through a song, complaining about the monotony of everyday life and forgetting about those complaints upon exiting the liquor store.
The second half of the record is just more of the first, without any of the tracks ever sounding like a tired b-side. Something about this record manages to be so in your face, while always managing to sound lazy–and it’s brilliant. With so many references to other scenes, bands and sounds, it’s absolutely incredible to hear a record so fresh. Simply put, Two Inch Astronaut is a band who took notes in the best way.